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Athlete loses her wheelchair on flight

Jess Whyte
Jess Whyte Image credit: bbc.co.uk

A disabled athlete competing in the Commonwealth Games has had a setback after her wheelchair was lost on a flight.

Jess Whyte, 24, flew from East Midlands Airport to Amsterdam on Saturday in preparation for the 3x3 basketball tournament, her first major event.

But when she touched down only the wheels to her £7,000 wheelchair appeared, the rest went missing and are still yet to be found.

Ms Whyte, who is paralysed from the waist down, said:  "It was made for me, I've trained with it since March, using anything else would be like playing in high heels."

Whyte is from Manchester but can play for Scotland because of her grandfather’s nationality.

She said: "The timing just could not have been worse.

"I'm due in the athlete's village tomorrow and I don't have a chair."

Whyte said: "My suitcase made it, my wheels made it but no frame.

"The tournament was a big part of the preparations for the games, it was the last chance to play against opposition teams.

"It was also out of doors, like at the games themselves, which is very different from the indoor venues I'm used to."

She said losing her wheelchair has also set back the rest of the team.

"It means I can't train properly with my team, which makes it harder for them to prepare,” Whyte explained.

"I still have my old chair but this one is completely different, it took two months to have it custom built.

"The height, the support, it is specifically for me and a different chair would affect not only my performance but my safety as well."

An East Midlands Airport spokesperson said: We appreciate the concern that this is causing the athlete and, along with the airline's ground handling agent, we are doing everything we can to help find the missing wheelchair."

The 22nd Commonwealth Games begins Thursday 28 July in Birmingham.